Sunday, May 27, 2012

Folsom Historic District

After John and I arrived in Folsom, CA late Saturday morning, I opened up Google Maps on my phone and saw that there were trails nearby for running and bicycling--just off of the business park where John's bike race was held.  So I laced up my running shoes, watched a few laps of another men's bike race before heading towards the trail.  What I had hopped onto was part of a 32 mile stretch of paved multi-use pathway called the American River Bike Trail.  It's a pretty impressive trail with many points of interests; I'm glad I had the opportunity to check it out.
I ran south along Lake Natoma past Willow Creek Recreational Area.  People were enjoying lunch on picnic tables with a view of the water on which there were several kayakers.
Initially I ran on the paved trails because I had training shoes for the road but after a while, I jumped onto the dirt trails (mainly so I wouldn't cause accidents between oncoming cyclists and other bicycle riders trying to swerve around me on the bike path).  For the most part the surface of the running trail was packed dirt and well groomed; it's also great for mountain bikes.
The paved area of the bike trail had a steady flow of bicyclists but the dirt trail was very quiet. Often times I felt like I was in the middle of nowhere and all alone, which was peaceful but at the same time kind of unsettling because I was afraid to get lost.  Good thing it was daylight and every mile or so I'd pass other runners if I didn't pass people picnicking along the lake.

It was a beautiful area and a gorgeous day to be outside.  Had I know, I would have brought my bike so I could cover more distance and loop around to the other side of the lake.  I will next time!
I ran back, covering just under 6 miles and in time to watch the last few laps of John's bike race and of course the finish after I quickly changed out of my clothes.  He placed 12th out of a field of 93 riders -- pretty good for his first race after upgrading into a new category.
As we drove towards home looking for a place to eat, I spotted a sign to the Folsom Historic District and John was open to checking it out.  What a cute little area it was!
We checked out a couple shops where we spotted gift ideas in the window. Then walked in to Hop Sing Palace, a Chinese restaurant I saw on Google Maps and was recommended by the lady at one of the gift shops we visited.  The staff was very friendly, all wearing crisp white shirts.  We really liked the cozy, warm interior and old school Chinese restaurant feel...very romantic.
On the table there was a pitcher of ice cold water and a hot pot of tea.  We ordered the seafood special (shrimp and scallops with a choice of asparagus or green beans with black bean sauce; we went with asparagus).  John usually likes to try Pad Thai if we eat Asian food so we also ordered that.  And Wor Wonton Soup, loaded with stuffed wontons, shrimp, vegetables, and BBQ pork -- enough to serve at least four people of not six!  We had lots of leftovers even though we were stuffed (and happy) with dinner.
Then drove home :) The drive was pretty...sunshine peeking through clouds lingering after the rain that passed through.
I'm glad I went with John to his bike race. He did well and I had the chance to explore trails I didn't notice the last time we were there. We got to see a new part of Folsom and enjoy dinner together. As always, our drive is our quality time together when we can talk. I can't recall what we talk about...I just remember that it was a fun trip.
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Meet Sally

Now that it's spring time we're seeing lots of Yellow-bellied Marmots, usually on the golf course behind our home (because they like to eat the leaves and blossoms of many different plants and grasses) but this one was in our yard. I spotted her looking through the wired-fence onto the golf course before going under our patio. She stood there for the longest time, turning her head side to side as she let me take photos of her.  I think she was as curious about me as I was of her!
Sally, the Yellow-bellied Marmot
Laying on the rocks in the garden.
Watching golfers on the course.
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Sunday, May 20, 2012

Annular Eclipse in Reno - May 2012

I looked up at the sky (with my solar viewers of course) just shortly after 5:15 p.m. and saw the partial eclipse. The moon was on course to align with the sun, casting a shadow on to Earth, right over Reno.
We drove away from home to pick up our friend and headed up Peavine Mountain. Other people were already there so they can have an unobstructed view of the rare event.  Truthfully, total eclipses aren't rare but they always occur over the ocean or north and south poles -- the middle of nowhere so for the cosmic event to pass right over our back yards was something we didn't want to miss!
On Peavine we sat for a good hour and a half, savoring every moment of the eclipse.
For four minutes, the moon was squarely in front of the sun but because the moon was the farthest from the Earth in its rotation, it covered about 95% of the sun where if the moon had been closer to the Earth, it would completely cover the sun.  Anyway, the eclipse created this perfect ring.
All I can say is IT WAS AMAZING to witness.  I am so glad to have been at the right place at the right time to have seen it all happen in person.
The eclipse ended shortly after 7:15 p.m. or something like that. Afterwards, John and I went to Pub and Sub near the University for dinner.  Excellent pizza, the way real pizza should taste!

Here are more photos of the eclipse:

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Wine Walk at the Reno Riverwalk District

I went for a nice run through the neighborhood on Saturday morning for just over six miles. I know I sound like a broken record when I say the weather was just perfect to be outside but it was.  Sunny with clear skies but cool enough so to finish my run without burning up (I don't carry water).  There's still snow atop Mount Rose (you can see it in this picture as I neared home).  Having lived in places where a marine layer would cloud the mornings or it would be 100 degrees by 9 a.m., I don't take nice days for granted -- no matter where I may be!
Then John and I met a friend to participate in the Wine Walk at the Reno Riverwalk District.  It's a charity event held every third Saturday of the month.  This particular month was to benefit the Truckee Meadows Habitat for Humanity. 
How it works is we visit any participating merchant to purchase a wine glass (some merchants have incentives such as a free shot at the bar or a wine glass charm like the ones we picked up from Reno eNVy which I think is so cool!).  We got a commemorative glass and a map to keep.  The ID bracelet placed on our wrists allowed us to visit any participating merchant on the map to sample wine.
We walked in to an art gallery, salon, candy shop, several bars, restaurants, and clothing boutiques in the downtown Reno area for wine tasting.  Each place we stopped at gave us the opportunity to see what it's like inside and now John and I have a list of restaurants we'd like to try and stores to revisit.
At the end of the wine walk, a raffle was held to give away prizes generously donated by the participating merchants.  Talk about a crowd of people, LOL -- it was SO MUCH FUN!!  We were quite famished so we settled down at a restaurant we've never tried before called Bowl.  It's a small restaurant where you order the food at the counter and help yourself to lemon water or condiments. The seating area opens up to the streets and their menu changes regularly because they try to serve fresh, quality food. 
John ordered the duck confit, wild mushrooms, greens, and polenta ($16) and I ordered the barramundi fish, lentil salad, grilled asparagus, prosciutto, and tapanade ($15). It seems like an overpriced bowl of food for a self-serve restaurant but both of us could not stop raving about how good our meals were! We finished both of our bowls and would definitely go back there again. Yum-yum!! Seriously.

I have way too many photos to share so I hope you enjoy the slideshow:

Friday, May 18, 2012

Bike to Work Day 2012 and Happy Hour at the Stone House

Early Friday morning of the 18th, John and I rode our bikes to meet my co-workers so we could ride to the office as part of Bike to Work Day.
The weather couldn't be more perfect. We rode in to the southern part of campus, past rows and rows of chairs that were set up for commencement on the university's historic Quadrangle. 2,200 degrees were awarded in the two ceremonies that took place on Friday and Saturday, a record-breaking number for our institution.
When we arrived at our destination, we treated ourselves to free coffee offered at Starbucks (one of the many places offering free coffee; some places also give away free bottled water, bananas, and pancakes to bicycle commuters.)
As if bicycling to work wasn't exciting enough, we waited in line for nearly one and half hours to purchase solar viewers from the planetarium on campus so that we could watch the annular eclipse the following Sunday.  The planetarium had already sold 17,000 pairs and Friday's shipment brought in 10,000 more.
There were nearly 100 people before us; the line snaked down the sidewalk and probably 100 more after us.  While waiting in line, the local news interviewed me. Then another news station interviewed me at the checkout line once I finally had several the solar viewers in hand. I just think it's funny that I've been living in Reno for six months and have been in the news on two occasions (the first was for the Caughlin Ranch Fire).
By the end of the day, I was ready to relax and enjoy the start of the weekend. John and I went to one of our favorite places near home for happy hour at the Stone House Cafe. We had fried calamari with lemon aoili (it's a garlic mayonnaise dipping sauce), hot wings, and chicken and vegetable pot stickers.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Quality Day

I love days when things run smoothly and its productive.  Most weeks are like that.  I think this particular was extra special because it started out with a bike ride to the office with John.  Traffic was very minimal, the weather was perfect, and no one tried to smoke us out with the exhaust of their diesel truck.  Upon arrival on campus, we had plenty of time to sit down for coffee and pastries before I needed to head up to the office.

Commuting by bicycle is actually faster for me than driving, parking downtown, and walking the remaining .75 miles.  I clocked one hour in the saddle today; more of a workout than walking and the fresh air sure beats pounding the treadmill indoors at the gym (don't get me wrong, I still love running).  The best part is I get quality time with John during our rides to campus and today, he rode back to my office at the end of the day to pedal with me home.
Lunch from the GourMelt Grilled Cheese Truck
Today also happened to be the day that the GourMelt Grilled Cheese Food Truck was parking on campus (I had just mentioned the food truck in an earlier post).  Because a friend had me thinking about a jalapeño pimento cheese on sourdough grilled sandwich she makes for her family, now was my chance to try the Pepper Popper (which is cheddar cheese, cream cheese, fresh jalapeño peppers on sourdough).  The bacon was added for $2 extra.  Need I tell you that is a winning combination with garlic fries to top it off.  Next time, however, I'm going to pack my own pimento!
Bike to Work Week ride to the office
My work day was also a quality day with a productive meeting and work session, and to make things sweeter I have to share this promising news.  My boss called me in to his office this afternoon.  He wanted to talk about me bringing my bicycle in to the building which is not allowed due to safety reasons and to comply with ADA regulations (I didn't have a bike lock with me last Friday when I first rode to work and believe me, I promptly received a stern but gentle verbal warning from the building custodian.  He understood that the parts on my bike--just the pedals and saddle retail for hundreds of dollars alone, not counting the handlebars, stem, brakes, wheels, and bike frame so he let me keep it with me for the day).  I'd rather ask for forgiveness than risk replacing my bike (and it will have to do because I haven't found a commuter I like yet).

Anyway just when I thought I was in trouble, my boss offered to talk to the right folks about installing a bike locker behind our building!!  I had already looked into renting a bike locker but was put on a waiting list because there are none available and the closest one is several buildings away.  Campus is pretty safe; so many students and faculty ride their bikes around I'm not too concerned about my bike getting stolen but it will be nice to have a locker to keep it out of the outdoor elements all day.
finally what's a post without a report from Havi or Elgy? They enjoyed sunbathing on the windowsill and also had a quality day.
Havi channelling the spring heat to the insulator
John went riding on his bike in between his bike fitting appointments and came upon a miniature donkey (it's back was not any taller than three feet) and it was pals with the lighter colored ostrich you see in the photo.  Then while he was taking photos, the other darker colored ostrich came over to see what was going on.  John was so tickled by their cuteness, he had to share this photo.

I wish this day would last a little longer but all good things must get some rest, right?  Tomorrow is the start of a new day and I can't wait to discover the gifts it brings!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Positioning for a Perfect Solar Eclipse

The Biggest Little City in the World will be one of the best places in the world to view an astronomical event this Sunday, May 20 when a perfect solar eclipse will sweep across the southwestern United States after passing over East Asia and the northern Pacific Ocean.

While a solar eclipse is not a rare event, a perfect eclipse visible from our backyard is; where a portion of the sun's surface will be visible as a ring surrounding the dark moon.  Reno and Albuquerque are the only two major cities in the U.S. that will be very near the narrow path of the annular eclipse.

The next annular eclipse viewable from North America will not appear for another 20 years, and the next total eclipse viewable from Northern Nevada will not occur until 2045! We will not miss this one.

Sources and Additional Information:
Eclipse Photography: 
Solar Eclipse Photography:

Update (05/16/2012):
Annular Eclipse Viewing Area (click to view larger interactive map)
The narrow path of the annular eclipse is outlined by the blue line (the red line is the center of the path) and those within these boundaries will be able to experience the annular eclipse (where the Moon passes directly in front of the sun).  Maximum eclipse in Reno, NV will be 6:30 p.m. P.S.T. and the moon will look like a black hole in front of the sun.

Read more here:

If you're not at a place where you can to view the annular eclipse in person, there are several live video stream links on this page:

Monday, May 14, 2012

Bike to Work Week

I rode my bike to work on Friday in celebration of Bike to Work Week (which doesn't officially start until this week so I was a little early).  The distance was about 6 1/2 miles each way (a mile more than driving because I wanted to stick to roads with bike lanes for safety.
Outside Reno Bike Project on 4th Street near downtown
John rode with me in the morning to make sure I could find a safe route to work. The day was perfect for riding -- sunny, still, and clear.  Being outside in the fresh cool air felt so good.  It woke me up faster than coffee and I was instantly alert.  Traffic was light and our cruise through the neighborhood streets was pretty much uneventful (except for one person in a lifted diesel truck who thought it was funny to deliberately smoke us out. Don't worry, it's a small town...and a memorable vehicle).  These are photos I took a few weeks ago when John drove me to work.

Then we stopped for coffee and pastries at Bibo Coffee Company near campus and sat outside on the patio (this photo was taken at the end of March and the weather was still cool then).
Bibo Coffee Co. on Record Street near UNR (March 2012)
Riding my bike to work was pretty easy.  Our pace was pretty easy (14 m.p.h. average) so I didn't get sweaty which meant I could wear my work clothes (I didn't need to change or shower).  Most of the route was safe because there were bicycle lanes and all of the drivers (but the one person) were mindful and gave us a lot of room (and me a lot of room when I rode home alone after work). I carried my laptop and lunch in my backpack -- and a flat tire kit.  Bike, helmet, a water bottle, eyeglasses, and light gloves were all I need.  Also, you should carry some sort of an emergency contact and ID card on you like Road ID® (I wear an ID badge for work so I wrote my emergency contact on a card that I slipped behind my badge). Leo also shares his experience and many great tips on his blog.

If you'd like to ride your bike to work (perhaps for Bike to Work Day this Friday), there are many resources out there to help you make it happen:

If you live in or around Reno, there are some perks like free coffee, pancakes, and/or snacks -- and raffles to win neat stuff just for riding to work this week:  Bike shops are also giving 10% discounts as well.  I'm sure there are similar things going on around the nation since May is National Bike Month.

Whether you are riding or driving, I hope you have a safe and fun week!


Saturday, May 12, 2012

GourMelt Grilled Cheese Truck

One cold day in late February, John picked me up from the office for lunch and as usual we were undecided about a place to eat. Then he remembered the GourMelt Grilled Cheese Truck and lucky for us, the food truck was parked nearby.  I once heard an interview on the radio with (I believe was) one of the owners discussing the challenges of the food truck industry in Reno/Washoe County and since then I have been wanting to try their gourmet grilled sandwiches.
There it was, the elusive food truck wrapped in the cutest graphics with glorious smells of grilled cheese and garlic fries wafting through the chilly winter air (it's actually not hard to find if you 'Like' them on Facebook, they announce where lunch will be parked).

If I could fit it all of the ooey gooey sandwiches in my stomach, I would have tried each and every one of their melts but since I wouldn't be able to, I narrowed my choices from the menu down to the Italian (mozzarella cheese, Italian sausage, grilled onions, roasted red peppers, and grilled mushrooms on sourdough bread with a garlic Parmesan crust).  Each grilled cheese sandwich comes with a choice of garlic Parmesan fries or homemade tomato soup (or you can substitute sweet potato fries for $1.00 more).      
John picked the Ultimelt which has cheddar cheese, Fontina cheese, and cream cheese melted on sourdough with a garlic Parmesan crust.  Do expect to wait a few minutes for your food, however.  It takes time to melt a cheesey, gooey sandwich to perfection and yet it still has a crunchy crust.  Well worth the wait for a bite into a taste of heaven!!

With our hot lunches tucked in a brown paper bag we sat in the car and ate at one of the nearby parks in downtown Reno and enjoyed our grilled cheese sandwiches.  It was the perfect meal for a cold day.

Reno has Food Truck Friday's where locals and tourists can gather downtown on Friday evenings from spring through summer and enjoy the many food options around music and craft booth(s), and sip a cold brew.  In fact, the idea was formed by the owners and operators of GourMelt Grilled Cheese Truck (the truck is also featured at the social gathering) and so I can't wait until the next time I get to try one of their many grilled cheese sandwiches!

Check out this blog for details: Food Truck Friday Represents Reno’s Changing Culture

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